The fungal degradation of lipophilic extractives in sapwood and heartwood from Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) was studied. In sapwood, the white rot fungi, Bjerkandera sp. and Funalia trogii, removed higher amounts of extractives than the sapstain strains, Ophiostoma ainoae and Ceratocystis allantospora. Triglycerides, long chain fatty acids, steryl esters and waxes in pine sapwood were almost completely degraded by all the fungi. Sterols and resin acids were also extensively degraded by the white rot strains; however, these components were not or only poorly removed by the sapstain fungi. The removal of total extractives by all the fungal strains was higher in sapwood as compared to heartwood. The highly concentrated extractive fraction in pine heartwood mainly consists of resin acids. As observed in sapwood, sapstain were also poorly effective in the degradation of the resin acids present in heartwood. The fungal degradation of heartwood extractives was not only limited by the degradative ability of the various test microorganisms, but also by the inhibitory effect exerted by the extractive fraction. The white rot fungus F. trogii was particularly inhibited on heartwood. Bjerkandera sp. showed a higher tolerance to toxic extractives and was the most efficient fungus in degrading extractive constituents in both Scots pine heartwood and sapwood. Therefore, Bjerkandera sp. strain BOS55 should be considered as a potential agent for pitch control in pulp and paper manufacture.
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